How to Save Energy By Unplugging Appliances You Don’t Use

How to Save Energy By Unplugging Appliances You Don’t Use

How to Save Energy By Unplugging Appliances You Don’t Use

Unplugging unused appliances is an easy way to reduce energy consumption and save money on your electricity bill. Here is a comprehensive guide on how unplugging appliances can help you save energy.

Why Unplugging Appliances Saves Energy

Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off but still plugged in. This is known as phantom load or vampire energy.

Some common culprits include:

  • Televisions
  • Cable and satellite boxes
  • Stereos and speakers
  • Computers and monitors
  • Printers and scanners
  • Microwaves and coffee makers
  • Chargers for phones, tablets, and laptops

These appliances use electricity even when turned off because they are designed to be always ready to turn on instantly. This standby power averages around 10% of home energy use.

Unplugging these devices stops the phantom load and can save 1-10% on your electricity bill. The more appliances you unplug when not in use, the more energy you will save.

How Much Energy Can Unplugging Appliances Save

The amount of energy that can be saved depends on the types of appliances, how many you unplug, and how often you unplug them.

Here are some estimates on potential savings:

  • Unplugging your TV, cable box, and stereo when not in use could save 20-40 kWh per year, saving $3-6 annually.
  • Unplugging a dormant computer could save 40-80 kWh per year, saving $6-12 annually.
  • Unplugging an old refrigerator in the garage that is not actively used could save 300-600 kWh per year, saving $45-90 annually.
  • Unplugging a window AC unit when not needed could save 200-300 kWh per year, saving $30-45 annually.
  • Unplugging chargers when not in use could save 10-50 kWh per year, saving $1-7 annually.

For a typical home, diligently unplugging unused appliances could easily save 500-1,000 kWh per year, adding up to $75-$150 in annual electricity savings.

Tips For Effectively Unplugging Appliances

Here are some useful tips to make regularly unplugging appliances easier and more effective:

  • Identify major phantom loads – Use a power meter to measure standby power usage of devices when off.

  • Unplug groups of appliances by using power strips with switches to cut off power to multiple devices.

  • Unplug appliances when away – Unplug TVs, chargers, and computers when on vacation. Use timers to automate the process.

  • Unplug rarely used appliances – Unplug old refrigerators, second fridges or freezers not actively used.

  • Charge devices then unplug – Don’t leave chargers plugged in when not charging.

  • Use power strips near beds and desks – Plug in devices used only at night or in your office.

Which Appliances To Focus On Unplugging

The appliances that should be top priorities for unplugging when not in use include:


  • Televisions – Unplug TVs not being actively watched. Use power strips to easily cut power.

  • Cable/satellite boxes – Unplug when TV is off. Simply turning off with the remote leaves it in standby.

  • Computer and monitors – Hibernate or shut down computers when not in use.

  • Speakers and stereos – Use switches on power strips to easily cut power to whole systems.

  • Chargers – Unplug when devices are fully charged. Chargers for phones, laptops, tablets, and other devices draw power when plugged in.

Kitchen Appliances

  • Microwaves and coffee makers – Use switched power strips to easily disconnect when not actively cooking or brewing.

  • Toaster ovens – Unplug when not in use as standby mode still uses power.

  • Slow cookers – Unplug when not cooking. New models with digital timers use power when off.

Seasonal Appliances

  • Window AC units when not cooling season. Unplug and store unused units for winter.

  • Space heaters when not heating season. Unplug and store when not needed.

  • Dehumidifiers when humidity is not an issue. Unplug and store during winter.

Infrequently Used Appliances

  • Old refrigerators and freezers – Unplug extras not actively used. Even when off, they use power to periodically cycle on.

  • Pool pumps – Use a timer and reduce running time of the pump to save energy.

  • Hot tubs – Unplug and turn off breakers when not actively used for long periods.

  • Sewing machines – Unplug when not in use. New computerized models use standby power.

Safety Precautions When Unplugging Appliances

When unplugging appliances, be sure to do it safely:

  • Never unplug an appliance while it is turned on or in use. Always switch off and power down devices before unplugging.

  • Do not overload extension cords or power strips. Use appropriately rated cords and strips for larger appliances.

  • When using power strips, make sure they are not daisy chained together in long chains.

  • Unplug appliances by grasping the plug firmly. Never pull the cord.

  • Take care not to trip over cords and keep areas neat when using power strips or extension cords.

  • Never leave space heaters plugged in and unattended. Always unplug when not actively in use.

  • Keep appliances properly maintained and in good condition. Don’t use damaged cords or plugs.

Unplugging appliances seems simple but doing it diligently can add up to significant energy savings. Following these tips will maximize the savings while keeping safety in mind. Saving energy will also help save money and protect the environment.